Printing office joins list of agencies looking to downsize

The Government Printing Office on Tuesday joined the fast-expanding list of federal agencies looking at buyouts in response to budget pressures.

GPO announced it plans to ask lawmakers and the Office of Personnel Management for permission to offer buyouts and early outs to its 2,200 employees, with the goal of decreasing its overall workforce by 15 percent and thinning its managerial ranks by 25 percent. The move was prompted by "overall government cutbacks and projected reductions in appropriated funds," according to the announcement.

If OPM grants the office's request, then employees could be offered lump-sum payments of up to $25,000 to voluntarily leave their jobs. The actual amount of the payout would be based on a formula, according to GPO.

The process would have to be completed by Dec. 31 for GPO to realize the anticipated savings, the statement said. GPO in January revised its fiscal 2012 budget request downward by $5 million, to $148.5 million. That represents a major reduction from the $166.6 million requested the previous year, Public Printer Bill Boarman pointed out in May congressional testimony. But it still would be a significant increase over the agency's actual fiscal 2011 budget of $135 million.

Boarman expressed confidence the staff reductions would not hamper GPO's mission of producing and distributing government documents. "These challenging economic times have no boundaries and are forcing federal agencies to seek ways to survive," he said in a statement. "GPO is open for business. We are an agency with a dedicated workforce that will continue to reengineer itself in the 21st century to serve as the digital information platform for the federal government."

GPO is one of several agencies turning to buyouts and early outs in the tight fiscal environment. The Agriculture Department last month won OPM approval to offer early outs to most employees and buyouts for 544 positions. The U.S. Postal Service and Smithsonian Institution also are offering voluntary separation packages, and the Air Force Materiel Command in May started gauging civilian workers' interest in potential buyouts.

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